The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.
Though limitations on women in institutional leadership continue, Holiness and Pentecostal women continue to carry out evangelistic ministries using the venues of revival and camp meetings as well as women’s conferences and conventions.
In this article, we will explore the story of Tamar from Genesis 38 as a transforming woman from the Old Testament. After her husband dies, Tamar appears to be a helpless woman, but she does not easily give up.
Recently, someone asked my thoughts on racial segregation in the US church on Sunday mornings: “How will we ever move forward together, as a unified church, if people of color don’t forgive us for the past?”
It matters that Mary and Jesus are often inaccurately imaged with light skin in the West. It matters that pastors preach on Jacob, David, and Peter but not Rahab, Tamar, and Priscilla. And it matters that, Sunday after Sunday, women don’t see preachers who look like us in the pulpit.
Years of conversations with women of color and some harsh lessons on intersectional feminism (as well as womanism, mujerista theology, native feminism, etc.) revealed that my feminist history was narrow and exclusive and likewise, so was my feminism.
We think that to be strong women, we must pour out endlessly, we must spend of ourselves, sometimes until nothing is left. But many of us continue to do so, long past when our reserves have run dry, because we think we have something to prove. Because we don’t see that our strength is in our skin and not our armor, in our love and not our fear.